Don’t waste prayer on the puny

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, November 04, 2005

The current concern about a possible bird flu pandemic killing hundreds of thousands brings back memories of the Asiatic flu, a vicious virus of the ‘50s that claimed many lives.

While traveling to another state during that time to conduct a two-week mission, I became concerned about the dangers of this plague and found myself so filled with fear about what might be ahead that unwanted questions began to surface.

What if so many in the community to which I was headed were stricken with this new flu that few were able to attend the meetings?

What if I became ill and unable to carry out my mission?

These concerns moved me to pray. My prayer went something like this: “Lord, keep me from getting the Asiatic flu during the next two weeks.”

And my prayer was an-swered. I felt fine for the next 14 days and had no difficulty fulfilling my responsibilities.

Now for the rest of the story:

Shortly after returning, I became so ill that I was unable to travel to the doctor’s office, making it necessary for this good man to drive to our rural home to treat me.

His medication, along with my wife’s care and prayers, brought full recovery, but I’m still asking why I prayed so timidly, requesting only to escape the Asiatic flu for two weeks.

Good question.

And here’s a related one.

In Ephesians 3:20, we’re asked why we limit God by praying puny prayers when he has the power to do far more than we can ask or think.

I once worked with a man who had a severe drinking problem. Alcohol had affected his health and finally resulted in a bleeding stomach ulcer that nearly ended his life.

After being rushed to the hospital, he received a considerable amount of blood and eventually began to recover. His road back to health was hindered, however, by anxiety over debts he had accumulated due to his heavy drinking.

One day his father-in-law came to the hospital to visit him and while there asked if he had learned anything from this experience. He answered that he had learned how dangerous it was for him to drink and said he was through with alcohol.

“If you mean that,” his father-in-law said, “I am going to pay every debt you owe and give you a new start.”

My friend was speechless at this generous offer.

“But, Dad,” he replied, “you have no idea how much I owe.”

“You have no idea how much I have,” his father-in law said.

After the hospital stay was over, he brought his son-in-law a checkbook of signed checks with which he paid all of those debts that had been troubling him.

We have a rich heavenly Father who cares and we ought to honor him by believing his promises to answer our prayers about anything that troubles us — even the bird flu.

Let homes and churches be filled with people praying boldly for deliverance from this potential plague, whether through medical breakthroughs or divine intervention.

The one who sees a sparrow fall invites us to pray in faith, expecting his protection to arrive on time and last until all flu fears are through.

Roger Campbell is an author, radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Waterford, Mich.

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